The Successes and Failures of Implementing Continuous Improvement Programs: Cases of Seven Automotive Parts Suppliers
This chapter addresses the process of implementing continuous improvement (CI) programs in small- to medium-sized manufacturing companies. It illustrates the CI programs of seven companies and draws lessons from their successes and their failures. This chapter may particularly be useful for managers of small- to medium-sized companies, who may be facing the many obstacles inherent in the early process of starting down the path toward lean manufacturing. Such managers may sense the urgency of creating a systematic program to make improvements but find forging ahead difficult because they are constantly in the fire-fighting mode—for instance, with customers who call in for order changes, impose unilateral cost reduction plans, threaten to drop them from the supplier list, or make promises that often go unfulfilled.